Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by FalconHonour, Nov 28, 2018.
Oh Bravo, Queen Marie. I quite like the woman she is becoming.
I'm not going to say she's not going to miscalculate occasionally, but learning to stand her ground against her father is something she can do, especially while she's carrying the King's child.
My darling, the campaign went exactly as we could wish. For all his talk of war, Francis was woefully unprepared. For all his bold manoeuvres around Calais, he failed to offer even the slightest protection to his own Norman citizens. He never thought to replace Alencon as governor. Nor did he consider us a worthy enough foe to recall many soldiers from his Italian adventure this past summer. I feel God must be punishing him for such arrogance by allowing us to take his land so easily. Rouen was ours almost as soon as we could muster the men to march upon it.
Longueville is now our prisoner, and Francis might as well be, given how much he’s now dancing to our tune. Normandy will be ours by Christmas and Mary will be his son’s betrothed and Dauphine of France before her next birthday. How’s that for a coup, eh?
War is all very well, however, and I certainly can’t complain, not when Lady Fortune is smiling upon us to this extent, yet it all falls flat when I remember what I’m missing at home. I long for nothing more than to see your smile as I hand you the symbol of our victory, King Francis’s own ceremonial sword; the smell of your hair as I pull you close to kiss you; to be with you as you watch and feel our son growing inside you.”
Henry sat in the upstairs room of the inn he had commandeered as his headquarters, penning a letter to his love, his grin growing wider with every word he wrote. How proud Marie would be of him, when she heard how spectacular his victory at Rouen had been!
He was so intent upon his task that he didn’t hear the commotion outside his room. Only Anthony Knivert’s shout from right outside the door drew any reaction from him.
“Sire! Come! The men refuse to be led into Fontainebleu by anyone save the King who has inspired them to their victory!”
Henry jolted to his feet. At last! He’d soon be home now!
Circlet under one arm, he bent to add a few more lines to his letter, “If the treaty is signed the way I want it to be, I’ll spend Christmas in Rouen as the new Duke of Normandy, but I’ll be back early in the New Year, sweetheart. In the meantime, take care of yourself…and of the child you carry. Godspeed and God Bless.
Your loving husband,
Then he raced out of the tent to take his place at the head of his men. It was time to put Francis in his place once and for all.
I have the feeling Henry's expectations would be too optimistic but in his favour, things are really going amazing for England and a disaster for France. I don't really see how Francis can totally flip the odds at this point.
I don't want this to be an English-Wank, but just for once, I am enjoying letting Henry do well against the French. As someone else put it upthread, he had an awful lot of bad luck OTL. I'm just giving him something of a break....
Well, on military issues Henry didn't went bad OTL - he defeated the French twice on battle (Guinegatte, Bolougne). Is all over family issues that he made a huge screw up.
Nice Letter their King Henry.
I wonder if an aide will send it as is given Henry dashed out, or if it waits for him to come back and seal it?
Do you know, I never thought that far. But you can rest assured, Marie gets it
For France in the long term this is a disaster of epic proportions, Methinks Francis will be the ONLY King of France to bear that name since he is 'Francis the Fool' the man who's pride lead him to losing everything his ancestors fought to preserve and regain from England.
Normandy is once again in English hands and a landing platform for England to use in any and all future wars between England and France.
Even if Francis manages to stall any further gains on Henry VIII's part, this campaign is nothing less than a loss for France, everything now is about damage control.
“And then she just dismissed me as though I were nothing! Me, her own father! Does the ungrateful chit not realise how much I’ve done for her?!” Thomas Boleyn was roaring with fury as he stalked around his chambers, fists clenched. Laying aside her sewing, his wife Elizabeth rose to stand before him, laying a soothing hand on his cheek.
“I’m sure she does, Thomas. I’m sure she does. She was probably just trying to be a good Queen and not show favouritism, at least not this early in her reign. You ought to be proud of her.”
“She denied her own brother the chance of a good match! She refused to help us rise; to do her duty to this family!”
“Her duty is to England now,” Elizabeth reminded him quietly, “To England and the King.”
When Thomas didn’t reply, she sighed, “I’ll talk to Marie. There’ll be a reason for this, I’m sure. But you’ve got to stop losing your temper with her. It’s not going to do you any good. Not anymore.
Leaving her husband mulling her words over, however reluctantly, she went to the Queen’s rooms, where she was welcomed warmly by her daughter.
“Mama. This is a pleasant surprise. Do sit down. What can I do for you?”
“May we talk in private, Madam?” Elizabeth asked, the unusual honorific feeling awkward on her lips, “It’s a family matter I’ve come about.”
If Marie was surprised, she didn’t show it. “Of course,” she said graciously. Clapping her hands, she sent her ladies scampering from the room, though not before Edith Dudley had brought them both a cup of mead.
Marie took a sip of hers, then looked at her mother over the rim of her goblet, “What’s troubling you, Mama?”
“It’s – Marie – Look-” After three false starts, Elizabeth decided there was no point beating about the bush and came straight out with it.
“Why did you refuse to ask your husband’s blessing for George to marry Lady Margaret Courtenay? Your Father’s furious.”
Marie hesitated, then reached out a hand to her mother, “I don’t think you and Papa quite understand, Mama. I don’t begrudge George a marriage to a young woman of noble birth. Far from it. I’d be a hypocrite if I did and besides, I care for my brother. I want to see him marry well.”
“But then – why not Lady Margaret?”
“I want to see my brother marry well,” Marie continued, as though Elizabeth had not spoken, “But above all, I want to see him happy. I’m Queen now, I need a family I can rely on around me. That means my brother has to marry a woman he likes, because their marriage has to be able to survive being in the spotlight. Give George and Margaret time to get to know one another first. If, after you’ve watched them interact for a while, you still think their union is a good idea, come back to me and we’ll talk about it again.”
Elizabeth opened her mouth, but before she could respond, Isabel Baynton opened the door.
“Apologies for the intrusion, Your Grace, but this just came from Paris. I thought you’d like to see it.”
“Give it to me,” Marie could hardly restrain her impatience as Isabel laid the message in her hand. She broke the seal with trembling fingers...then gasped with pleasure.
“What is it?” Elizabeth asked. Marie looked up at her and her normally demure blue eyes were sparkling.
“He’s done it. He’s won. Henry’s coming home, Mama! He’s coming home!”
You're absolutely right. I hadn't thought about the implications Francis's failures would have on things as simple as names, but you're absolutely right. Thank you for that reminder - it may well come in handy later down the line...
Just so you're all aware, I have been extremely generous with chapters recently, because I am going away on Tuesday. I'm going to be in the States for three weeks - most likely without my laptop. So don't expect another chapter until early July now
(But I promise the next one is the Anglo-French summit in Fontainebleu...)
Have a safe and fun trip, and thanks for the wonderful writing!
Nice updates. I really like Marie's reasoning on George's marriage, and I hope he's happier this time around. Jane Parker was not a good match personality-wise, and she made poor choices even after she was widowed (re Katherine Howard). A match where you're well-suited is always going to be happier and stronger than one purely based on political machinations, and Marie's observation that they'll be much more in the public eye is a good one. Papa Boleyn's going to have to start thinking beyond the political and into the social if he wants to keep Marie on side...
Does Henry have Bayeux Cathedral under his control? I can see him taking the Bayeux Tapestry home to England...
I hadn't thought of that... It's the kind of thing he'd do, I shall have to see if I can work it in somewhere...
To give an update on where things stand at the moment, I returned from my Stateside adventures in what felt like the early hours of this morning. The next chapter isn't far off, but it needs tweaking, so hopefully, I should have it up by early next week...
(Oh, and I managed to draft another chapter of Spes Patriae while I was away too, for those of you who are interested...)
Marguerite, Dowager Duchess of Alencon, stood with her hands on her hips, facing down her brother.
“Francois, you can’t be serious! After everything old King Louis did to stabilise the Crown; to expand its borders, you’re just going to throw it away to this Tudor upstart? Tell me you’re not serious!”
King Francis threw up his hands, “What would you have me do, Marguerite? Lose my throne entirely? At least if I offer Henri these terms, I’ll keep my throne and all our lands except Normandy. And we’ll get everything west of the Orne back when his daughter Mary marries my Francois. We’re not making him King, only recognising his old claim to be Duke of Normandy.”
“Normandy! Normandy! That land is fractious enough without us losing our hold on it entirely! What are you thinking?! Charles didn’t die so you could spit on his loyalty and throw his years of hard work away with months of his death!”
“No. You don’t call me Cherie anymore, majesté. You lost that right when you tried to pawn me off as a bargaining chip on the altar of your ambition! And then made it worse by failing to defend my betrothal, instead wilting beneath that Welsh dragon’s feeble puffs of smoke!”
Marguerite whirled on her heel and slammed the door as she strode out, ignoring both her brother’s frantic calls for her to return and the bows and curtsies being accorded to her by the courtiers who parted for her like the Red Sea as she passed.
Francis sighed and turned to the other woman in the room.
“Can’t she see that I’m doing my best here, Maman? Can’t she see that I’ve got my back to the wall here? You can. It’s your lands, your title, I’m gifting away, and yet you’re taking it better than Marguerite is. I don’t understand.”
“Ah, but mon roi, I’m used to the turns of Lady Fortune’s wheel. Marguerite isn’t. She’ll come round, I promise. She’s just disappointed, that’s all.”
“Disappointed? Marguerite is disappointed in me?” Francis’s voice rang with incredulity, the incredulity of the spoilt family favourite who has just been refused something or scolded for the first time in his life. Louise spread her hands and shrugged elegantly.
“Bien sur. You promised her a glittering future as the Queen of England, only to fail to protect it as it was stolen away from her by the sister of an old maid of hers. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, she now has to watch as her beloved brother hands our ancient enemy a large swathe of our territory almost on a plate. Of course she’ll be disappointed. How could she be anything other than disappointed?”
Francis’s shoulders slumped as he took in the truth of his mother’s words. Moments later, however, he raised his head again and his eyes were hard.
“I’ll get it back, Maman. I don’t care how long I have to wait. I swear I’ll get it back.”
*** *** ***
Henry glared at Francis over More’s shoulder. “What do you mean, he’ll only sign the treaty if I swear on oath that I’ll grant my daughter Mary almost half of Normandy as her dowry when the time comes? I hardly think he’s in a position to be making demands as large as that!”
“Of course he’s not, Sire,” More soothed, “Of course he’s not.”
“So why are we even humouring the scoundrel by discussing it?”
Henry’s face was puce with rage. His hands were clenched into fists at his sides. He was pacing quickly up and down – three steps forward, three steps back.
“I’ve half a mind not to sign the damn thing at all, but to raze Paris to the ground; to sack it and raze it to the ground. Then he wouldn’t have the nerve to look me in the eye and demand something as audacious as half of Normandy!” he growled. Sighing, More held up his hand.
“I know, Sire, but if you were to grant Francis his wish, you’d be known throughout Christendom as the King who was the most gracious in victory. Wouldn’t that be something? You’d be a warrior as great as Henry V and a lord as gracious as old King Edward or even King David. You’d almost be on a par with Arthur himself.”
Henry paused at More’s words. Him, as great as King Arthur? That really would be something. That would really show his father’s ghost that he, not sickly Arthur, was the one who had been born to be King. Would signing the treaty as it was really be so bad?
Sensing he had the King baited, More carefully began to reel in his line.
“It’s not like you couldn’t make a demand of your own in exchange, Sire.”
More hated himself for being so conniving, but right now, all he wanted to do was get this treaty signed. Anything to get this campaign over and the King safely home to his new bride before anything could happen to him and before the weather got too bad to permit sailing. If being conniving was what it took, then he would be conniving.
For a moment, Henry fell silent, thinking. Then he smirked.
“All right. I’ll promise to dower Mary with the lands between Brittany and the Orne, if Francis wants me to. But I want his sword in exchange.”
“His sword, Sire?”
“His ceremonial sword. I will lay it at my love’s feet in triumph, just as the Pharaohs of Egypt used to do with their Queens.”
More gulped, hesitated a moment. Then he bowed, “Majesty.”
He walked over towards the French King, wishing he didn’t have to do this. Why in Heaven’s name had he ever suggested Henry make a demand in exchange for swearing to dower Princess Mary with the lands King Francis wanted when the time came? He might have known Henry would come up with something like this.
“Because it was the only way you’d ever see a halfway honourable truce concluded,” a voice said in his ear. Trying to ignore it, More bit the inside of his cheek and bowed before the French King.
“His Majesty sent me to tell you, Sire, that he will promise to dower Her Highness Princess Mary with the lands you request when she comes to France to marry the Dauphin, if you so wish it. But he wants something in exchange.”
King Francis attempted a laugh, “Something in exchange? What more can your master want than half my kingdom? Free trade with the other half?”
“He wants your sword, Sire.”
“My sword?” King Francis’s face was blank, uncomprehending.
“Your ceremonial sword, Sire. He wishes to lay it at Queen Mary’s feet in triumph.”
More kept his face carefully impassive, but it didn’t stop his heart inwardly wrenching for the French King as the younger man’s face went white.
“My sword? No! C’est Impossible!”
The words were out before King Francis could stop them. Louise of Savoy cut him off, stepping smoothly into the breach.
“I presume, Master More, that your master will see to it that an exact duplicate, perfect in every detail, is sent out from England before the next great feast days?”
More hid his surprise at the former Countess of Angouleme’s ever-consummate grace and confidence. Bowing more deeply than he feared Henry would like, he nodded, “I should think that could be arranged, Madame de Angouleme, yes.”
“Very well. You may tell your master we accept his terms. He’ll have our signatures on the treaty within the next forty-eight hours.”
More bowed once more and gratefully retreated to re-join the English entourage, torn between exultation on his King’s behalf and pity for the vanquished.
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